How to Stay Safe in Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand is bursting with color, vibrancy and life, but it also has a dark side. Here's everything you need to know to enjoy Bangkok safely.

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Where to Stay in Bangkok

The most popular areas for travelers to Bangkok are Siam, Sukhumvit Road, Sathorn, Chidlom-Ploenchit, Pratunam and the Riverside. Backpackers from around the world still swear by the famous Khao San Road.

Regardless of where you stay, you'll have a story to tell! Bangkok is a colorful place for any nomad, from go-go bars, clubs, and ladyboy shows, to the amazing food, gold-spired temples and Buddhist monks; it's a city of contrasts.

Getting Around Bangkok

Taking a Tuk Tuk

Riding in Tuk Tuks is a fun way to travel around Thailand – but here's what you need to know:

  • It‘s essential to bargain your fare before you board. This not only allows you to get the best price, it also sets it. However, it‘s important to make sure that your fare is actually set. Tuk Tuk drivers will only speak marginal English at best and it‘s a common trick to negotiate a fare that sounds like another one (the best example is the old 14 Baht/40 Baht confusion).
  • To avoid an argument at the end of a trip, write down the fare before you take a ride. There has been recent controversy surrounding Tuk Tuk drivers overcharging, so be careful. If your fare results in a dispute, some Tuk Tuk drivers can become aggressive and on rare occasions, even violent.

  • Tuk Tuks are best for short trips. Anything longer than a 30-minute trip will start to get uncomfortable.

  • Tuk Tuk drivers drive fast and offer little to no accident protection. So expect a bumpy, sometimes dangerous ride.

  • Set your destination, and make sure your driver takes you there. Tuk Tuk drivers are often paid by vendors or venue operators to veer from their course. If you have a feeling that you are being steered down the wrong path, say "yoot tee nee" (stop here) and get out.

Are Taxis Safe in Bangkok?

While a Tuk Tuk ride can be a bit of an adventure, their popularity is on the wane. Many travelers now prefer to pay a few extra baht and travel in the relative comfort of licensed, air-conditioned cabs. The ride might be smoother, but there are still a few things to keep in mind:

  • Look before you open the door for any passing motorbikes on both sides of the road. Remember, anything can happen on Thai roads and traffic can pass on both sides of a vehicle.

  • Make sure the meter is on. If you are riding in an unmetered cab and haven‘t negotiated the fare from the get-go, it could turn into a stoush at the end of the ride. If the driver refuses to use the meter, move on and find one that will.

Traffic in Bangkok

Be aware when walking near or on a road in Thailand. If you are hit by a car, the Thai law applies – even if you are in the right, if you are a farang, the accident is your fault.

In general, the standard of driving, for both locals and visitors,  is bad. There are many accidents, and pedestrians are often ignored. The main rule of the road seems to be that the largest vehicle wins.

Watch what people around you are doing, and mimic their movements and actions. Use pedestrian crossings and overpasses whenever possible, but do not assume crossings are pedestrian safe.

Renting a Scooter

Do you need a license to ride in Thailand? Yes! Check out our article on licenses in Thailand before you ride.

Going Somewhere Else in Thailand?

Read our guides to:

Want to know how to avoid being scammed in Bangkok? Check out this detailed list of everything from "free gifts" to gem scams.

Get a travel insurance quote for Thailand

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4 Comments

  • Bangkok Farang said

    Bangkok Taxis are the one of the biggest thieves and cheats in the world when dealing with foreigners. Mainly from Bangkok Airport to town they will always refuse to put on the meter to charge you double the price. There attitude is as disgusting as the attitude of the so called complaint division booth at the airport who will plainly recommend you to try another taxi if you complain. My advice - in Bangkok as many other countries of the world where taxi drivers are just cheats, use UBER.com....

  • Bangkok Farang part II said

    ...as for tuk tuk.....I know it is exotic, but tuk tuks are all part of a mafia who control the drug and sex trade and the drivers will cheat you, or get violent if there is a dispute. Also if there is an accident, the tuk tuk's have no insurance and your home insurance could challenge payment. My advice, just avoid the tuk tuks as you will be cheated no matter what.

  • James Nardell said

    For what it's worth, generally speaking, I feel that Bangkok is a pretty safe place for those wishing to conduct business or take part in tourism. I feel safer in Bangkok, especially late at night, than I do in London.

    I have put together some thoughts on what I have both learned, and experienced, over the past 18 years in Bangkok [regarding safety] in this video.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ygOfxURtE8

  • Bella said

    I went Bangkok in 2016. Nana Street and Patpong is really enjoyable, and safe. I really really miss this city. Because i went lonely, i had freedom, i had money(i was working in there) and i was travelling, especially shopping. Siam Paragon is the best shopping centre in Thailand, in my opinion. And nature,amazing! Also you can drink coconut milk , you can eat papaya,mango during all of the street. I wish I can go lonely soon, again, my God..

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